Iiro Rantala, the brilliant pianist from Helsinki who is equally at home in Jazz, Classical, and Film score composing, brought his new project to Berlin’s A-Trane last night. His album “Anyone With A Heart”, released earlier this year on ACT, features the croatian cellist Asja Valcic and the polish violinist Adam Baldych.
During his first set last night before a packed house, the music stretched from chamber-like compositions like the beautiful “A Gift” to hymnlike pieces and rolling, roaring showcases. Both Valcic and Baldych showed impeccable virtuosity, with Baldych sometimes treating his violin like a percussion instrument, but always on the mark.
The main piece of the set was a classical work which was commissioned in 2011 by the Cantores Minores Boys Choir of which Iiro was a member some 35 years ago: the piece was part of his Christmas Oratorio which he wrote for them and which segued directly into a frenzy-like “Caravan” where all three musicians had furious solos. The audience response was overwhelming.
Iiro is also a great comedian – if you listen to his comments and remarks between songs you can hear why he is also part of a comedy show which can be seen later this month in Austria, Switzerland, and also in Essen (December 29th at Grillo Theater). He also has upcoming solo performances in Italy next month (check out his brilliant “Lost Heroes” solo album from 2011) and in the Netherlands and Belgium in February plus gigs with Lars Danielsson in France in February.